Stuffed Butternut Squash With Mushroom And Couscous

October 1, 2013 2 Comments

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I started the pumpkin season with this stuffed squash recipe and it became one of my favourite autumn main courses. Sweet soft butternut squash with a nice spicy heat from chili and packed with porcini and couscous and other herbs. Yum!

I found the recipe in one of Jamie’s cookbook (Happy Days with the Naked Chef). The dish is really perfect for cold fall and winter days because it warms our heart and soul. 🙂 Jamie made it with rice and pine nuts but I changed these ingredients for couscous and walnuts. The interesting thing is that the rice or couscous cooks in the squash using only the moisture from its flesh.

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Stuffed Butternut Squash With Mushroom And Couscous

Ingredients (serves 4)

– 1,5 kg butternut squash, cut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and soft fibres
– 1 small handful dried porcini mushroom
– 1 red onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 5 pieces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
– 100 g couscous
– 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
– 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
– 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
– 1/2 handful walnuts, very coarsely chopped
– olive oil
– salt, black pepper

Method

In a bowl soak the porcini in 200 ml water for about 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C (392F).

Using a spoon, score and scoop out some extra flesh from the length of the squash. Finely chop this flesh and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a  frying pan and add chopped red onion and garlic. Saute them for a few minutes, then add coriander, chili, rosemary, the chopped butternut squash flesh and the sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes until tender. Add the porcini and soaking water, season with salt and black pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the couscous and walnuts, then spoon the mixture tightly into the 2 halves of the squash and then press the halves together.

Rub the skin of the squash with olive oil, wrap it in foil, place in a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 1,5-2 hours until the squash is tender.

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Chickpeas And Tomatoes Pasta Or Pasta E Ceci

September 23, 2013 1 Comment

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Pasta e ceci… the famous, delicious comfort pasta dish from southern Italy. I learnt the recipe from my friend, Emiko but I also read about it in Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, Jamie’s Italy. In the book he says he can’t quite decide if it is a pasta or a soup (a kind of thick one). He thinks it leans slightly more toward being a soup – so he put it in the soup chapter in the book. (Read more about the history of this pasta on Emiko’s blog here.)

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Me and my friends cooked this pasta dish on a cloudy, grey summer afternoon when we gathered together to spend a long weekend at lake Balaton just like a year before. Although the weather was slightly cool we sat at the terrace and warmed up our bodies and souls with this comforting pasta lunch, served with a big bowl of mixed salad.

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The usability of chickpeas is very versatile, they can be cooked and eaten cold in salads, cooked in stews, soups, ground into a flour, ground and shaped in balls and fried as falafel. They are a noted ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes such as hummus and curries. I didn’t know that some varieties of chickpeas can be popped and eaten like popcorn.

As for the nutritional value chickpeas are rich in fiber and it’s one of the best source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Combined with a whole grain such as whole-wheat protein, they provide amount of protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fats. They can boost your energy because of their high iron content. They are also a great source of zinc and folate. So why not eat as much as you can?

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We followed exactly Emiko’s recipe to cook this pasta meal so if you would like to try it, head over to my friend’s blog and cook it for yourself and your family!

Enjoy!

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Vegan Fig Yoghurt Dessert With Walnut Vanilla Crumble

September 17, 2013 5 Comments

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Finally I’m brave enough to go out with my cute son, Adam to run a few errands and to do shopping. The best way to travel in the city is using the public transport that means it’s better to take your baby in a carrier than using the pram (at least in Budapest). Public transport and the whole city is not ready for moms and disabled people. Hopefully it’ll change very soon.

Using a carrier (like this one) has its advantages: both of my hands are free, easier to walk, to get on and off buses and the best part is that Adam is so close to me that I can feel his snuffle and his own special baby smell. 🙂

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Finally when we get home we always happily tell dad what we did, where we went and what an incredible day we had (at least I enjoyed it but we should ask Adam too if he likes shopping or not 🙂 ).

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On a day when we went shopping I bought these delicate, juicy purple figs. It’s so rare to get figs in Hungary (although the weather is suitable to grow!) that’s why I was over the moon to get my hands on them. I was wondering how to use them… baking a fig frangipane tart or something else? Then I found one of Slyvie’s recipes and I decided to make a similar parfait dessert using these wonderful purple figs. It is not only a dessert but it’s perfect for a Sunday brunch as well.

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Vegan Fig Yoghurt Dessert With Walnut Vanilla Crumble

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the crumble
– 1 cup walnuts
– 1/4 cup raisins
– 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the yoghurt cream
– 1 cup soy yoghurt / yoghurt
– 1 medium lemon’s juice and zest
– 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
– fresh figs, sliced

Method

Place the walnuts, raisins, vanilla and salt in a food processor. Pulse until chopped and crumbly.

In a bowl mix together the soy yoghurt with lemon juice, zest and honey (or maple syrup).

Place sliced figs in the bottom of a glass and top with a layer of walnut crumble, then lemon yoghurt. Repeat to create multiple layers.

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Superfood Breakfast: Vegan Banana Chia Pudding

September 9, 2013 4 Comments

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I love my superfood breakfasts. I wish I could have time every morning to make one of them. In real life I usually eat one or two pieces of seasonal fruit (nowadays it is an apple) and have a quick bite a bit later: most of the times it’s a piece of toast with almond or cashew butter and my mom’s sugar-free plum jam on top.

Chia seeds and chia pudding is getting more and more popular. The seeds are native to South America and have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. The word chia is derived from the Nahuatl word chian, meaning oily.

I’m trying to eat as much as I can because of its nutritional benefits:
– they can help your diet by making you feel full (it’s because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel)
– they are the richest plant source of Omega-3
– chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar
– they are an excellent source of fiber, with a whopping 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons
– chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer
– chia seeds contain no gluten or grains
– the outer layer of chia seeds swells when mixed with liquids to form a gel (this can used in place of eggs to lower cholesterol and increase the nutrient content of foods and baked goods)
(More info here.)

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I used chia seeds before but mostly to place an egg in vegan cakes. Chia seeds are very similar to flax seeds – if they are mixed with water its consistency becomes gel.

Don’t miss this pudding, it’s not only a healthy choice for breakfast but it tastes divine!

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Vegan Banana Chia Pudding

Ingredients (serves 2)

– 2-3 ripe bananas, smashed with a fork
– 4 tablespoons chia seeds
– 1 and 1/4 cups almond milk (you can use rice, oat or soymilk too)
– 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
– hazelnut

Method

Prepare your breakfast a day before. In a bowl mix chia seeds with almond milk and let it rest in the fridge for the night.

The next day toast the hazelnut in a dry non-stick pan for 7-8 minutes and chop them roughly.

Mix together the chia almond milk pudding with the smashed bananas and vanilla. Serve in little bowls with the toasted hazelnut.

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Spinach Gorgonzola Strudel With Sesame Seeds From Karin Of Yum And More Blog

September 3, 2013 1 Comment

fresh Turkish spinach

Karin and I met two years ago in London at Food Blogger Connect.  We got on well for the first time we started talking. Karin likes talking a lot… and I love listening to her stories for hours. She is lively, friendly and funny. She writes the wonderful blog Yum and More.

Hers she is sharing a delicious struder recipe. Karin says: “I am very excited about doing this guest post on Zita’s wonderful blog Zizi’s Adventures for two reasons: it means that Zita and Ivan’s precious child has arrived into this world and because it is an honor.

I have chosen a simple recipe for spinach gorgonzola strudel with sesame seeds. It is delicious and elegant, a perfect combination of tastes and can be ready within an hour and 15 minutes. Although we never ate spinach when I was a child and I didn’t like it as a teenager I really love it’s versatility now and will buy it fresh whenever I see nice spinach at an acceptable price. I then wash it and shrink it in olive oil as described below and freeze it in portions of around 300 grams about the amount left over from 500 grams of fresh leaves. I prefer Turkish spinach to the local German kind, its stems are longer and the leaves are thinner and don’t leave that thickness on your tongue that some spinaches do. I use spinach in pasta sauce, on quiche or pizza, and in this lovely spinach strudel that makes a perfect light meal for three with a side of tomato or other salad, a dollop of yoghurt. It is also perfect as an appetizer for a larger crowd.”

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Spinach Gorgonzola Strudel With Sesame Seeds

Ingredients

– 270 g puff pastry, rolled into a rectangle
– 120 g ripe Gorgonzola cheese or other blue/green cheese
– 500 g fresh spinach or 300 g cooked spinach leaves
– 6 large mushroom, cleaned and cut into pieces*
– olive oil
– 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
– 1 teaspoon Arrabiata spice mix (a spicy chili based mix used for pasta sauce usually contains: garlic, tomatoes, hot chili, carrots, celery, basil and salt)
– 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
– 1/2- 1 clove of chopped garlic, optional to taste
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– flour for dusting while rolling pastry dough
– 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
– plain yoghurt for serving

* You can leave out the mushrooms if you prefer.

Method

If you are using fresh spinach, cut off the stems and wash the leaves 2-3 times until no sand or dirt remains. Spin the leaves in a salad spinner to shake off excess water.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Now place all the spinach leaves into the pan at once, squish them in or pile them up, don’t worry they will shrink. Cover with a lid or other top. After 3 minutes lift the top and add some salt, mix and stir gently until all leave have collapsed. Do not overcook you just want the leaves to shrink together. Remove from the heat and put spinach in a colander to let any further water drip off and to cool it.

Cut the Gorgonzola into smaller pieces.

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Wipe down the pan you used to shrink the spinach and reheat on medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Put in the chopped shallot, the mushrooms and the garlic if using, stir-fry for 4 minutes lowering the heat so that it doesn’t burn. Squeeze the spinach one last time to remove any excess water, roughly chop it and put it in the pan. Add the Arrabiata mix. Stir the mixture carefully to blend and remove from the heat.

Roll out the dough on baking paper to the size of a baking sheet – use some flour if needed. Place the spinach mixture on the dough carefully making an even mound of it on one end of the long side of the baking sheet. Leave a spinach free rim of dough on either end of the mound. The spinach will still be warm and will make the dough soft so you need to be fast and careful.

Distribute the chunks of Gorgonzola along the spinach and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Now roll up the strudel carefully. Start by folding in the short sides and then rolling up the long way. Use the baking paper and a dough scraper for help. The dough will be soft because the spinach is warm.

Turn the strudel over if necessary so the seam is on the bottom, and the strudel in the middle of the baking sheet on the baking paper. Cut two small slit in the top to release steam or make 2 holes and decorate them with pastry cut-outs. Brush the roll with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes until the pastry is done and golden brown.

Serve in slices – use a bread knife to cut the slices – with a dollop of yoghurt and enjoy!

spinach strudel served

*****

Interview to get to know Karin more…

Where are you from?
K: I am orginally from the United States I was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in New England and in France living with my French Grandmother outside of Paris.

Where do you live?
K: I live in Frankfurt am Main, Germany since 1984 and have lived in Germany since 1977. I really like living in Frankfurt but hope to retire to the United States some day.

What is the name of your blog?
K: Yum and More.

How long have you been blogging?
K: Since September 2010

When did you start cooking/baking?
K: As a child and for my family as a teen.

Who (where) did you learn cooking/baking from?
K: From my Grandmother, my mother and from my own curiousity.

What is your signature dish?
K: My “Leaning Towers of Peaches and Tomatoes”. My lasagna is the most asked for but it is not my personal favorite although delicious. My best dishes definitely contain lemon, tarragon or cilantro, mustard and vinegar and are composed salads or veal dishes such as “blanquette de veau”, my sauces are pretty awesome too.

What is your favorite vegetarian/vegan meal?
K: This strudel or something with fresh peas. I detest green beans!

Where do you get inspiration from?
K: Everywhere! The market, my travels, magazines, blogs, cookbooks…. I soak up inspiration through my eyes and it goes straight to my taste buds and my food inspiration memory.

What was the most memorable food you have eaten during your travels?
K: Definitely whole crab in thick curry sauce on Lankayan Island in Malaysia. I also found Singapore to be an amazing city for food inspiration.

Name three things you always have in your fridge!
K: Mustard, cheese, fresh herbs

Is there a food that always reminds you of home?
K: Lobster, clams, steak and cheesecake

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Is there anything you want to share?
K: I have 30 types of mustard and 15 types of vinegar. I prefer cooking with gas to induction and I love my built-in steamer. My kitchen would not be complete without the frog picture.